Well, I can no longer say I was at the last no-hitter pitched at Fenway Park.
Clay Buchholz made baseball history on Saturday night, as he threw an absolute gem, a 10-0 no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles.
It was just his second MLB start, as he threw six good innings against the LA Angels for his first win last month. He had just been brought up earlier today, as Tim Wakefield could not make his start last night and Julian Tavarez, tonight's original starter, was moved up to last night.
It's funny the way life works out sometimes.
Buchholz was simply magnificent, and was in trouble only once the whole night. He walked two in the fifth, but he pitched out of it. The 23-year-old Texan struck out nine and walked three.
This game brought back memories for me. I was in Fenway Park for the last no-no pitched there, pitched by Derek Lowe on April 27, 2002. It is simply my most favorite time ever in an MLB park. It was simply electric, as the crowd was up and cheering on every pitch in the ninth inning. Like Lowe's game, the Sox led 10-0 going into the final inning. (I took that as an omen that Buchholz was going to do it.) And like in that game, a line drive to center, which looked like it might fall, was caught by the centerfielder for the second out (Coco Crisp tonight, Rickey Henderson back in 2002).
Nick Markakis was the final batter. (Ironically he grew up a Red Sox fan on Long Island.) He got caught looking on a Buchholz curve to end it. The park erupted, and all the Sox players came out to hug him and celebrate. Clay was almost speechless as he was being interviewed by Tina Cervasio of NESN.
Buchholz becomes the third pitcher in MLB history to pitch a no-hitter in his first or second start, joining Bobo Holloman in 1953 and Wilson Alvarez in 1991 as the only ones to do it. It is also the 17th no-hitter pitched in Red Sox history. (Buchholz has a connection to Pedro Martinez as well. He was the Red Sox compensation pick after the first round of the 2005 MLB Draft that the Red Sox selected after losing Pedro to free agency.)
It was a shot in the arm for the Sox, who had two pitchers take no-hitters into the sixth inning in New York this past week. (But they couldn't seal the deal!) It ended a four-game losing streak, and keeps the Sox five games in front of New York. It had been a brutal week for the Red Sox, and it really brings some joy to the team and fans. (It had been a rotten day today, seeing the Yankees win and Notre Dame get wiped out by Georgia Tech.) Last night had been incredibly frustrating, but the offense came alive tonight in support of Buchholz' gem. The defense also made some great plays behind him, including a great play by Dustin Pedroia in the seventh to keep it going.
And best of all, I picked up Clay Buchholz on one of my fantasy teams last night. I just had a feeling about tonight's game.
Yep, life has a funny way of working out sometimes. Congratulations, Clay.